Empowering Women in the Maritime Community is the theme for The World Maritime Day 2019 (#IamonBoard)..
The fact that we need to be reminded about empowering Women says a lot about how little has been done in this regard in the past and how much more remains to be done..!!
This theme provides us with yet another opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of gender equality in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and to highlight the important, yet under-utilized contribution of women in the maritime sector..
Inspired by this theme, Shipping and Freight Resource will be featuring selected Women in the Maritime Community (whether on board or on shore) making a difference in their own and unique way..
If you know of anyone who you feel should be featured here, please drop me an email..
I start this series with Tabitha Logan, Senior Manager – Chartering & Projects at Asia Maritime Pacific..
SFR: What was your motivation/inspiration in choosing the Maritime Industry..??
TL: I was actually pretty lucky, I discovered a career in the maritime industry quite by accident. When I moved to Hong Kong I was offered a Job with Clyde and Co law firm, in their shipping team.
I worked under a very knowledgeable Partner, Simon Baker and closely with our Master Mariner and some great maritime lawyers, so became hooked pretty quickly. It was completely different from any other industry I had come across and despite the global importance was something I actually knew very little about.
I found the people very interesting, every day was different and the work was dynamic with the international aspect to it. I wanted to learn more about how this industry worked from an Owner’s perspective, which was why after a few years I decided to take a leap and change my career path.
I applied for an operations team role in a Dry Bulk Handysize Owner called Maritime Capital Shipping.
SFR: Like many sectors in shipping, Ship Chartering has been a male-dominated industry, how did you get interested in this specific role..??
TL: As I had not worked in the commercial maritime world before, I knew I needed to get a foot in the door. So I thought the best place to start would be in an operations role to get an understanding of the inner workings of a shipowner.
I was lucky enough to be given a chance by Mark Harris and Mei Wong and worked under the great Bill Williams who knew pretty much everything about ship operations. After handling operations for a number of years, which is a great foundation for anyone interested in shipping, I have progressed to be the Senior Manager, Chartering and Projects for AMP where I manage our Handysize Pool and the operations of our International offices.
SFR: What has been the most difficult thing for you to overcome in your career thus far..??
TL: While it is true to say the industry was regarded as an old boys club my experience has been for the most part positive. I have been greatly supported by the companies I have worked for and have not really found being a woman in shipping a detriment, in fact, people tend to be more curious or surprised as to how I got into this career.
So I would say the most difficult thing has probably been the markets. I joined the maritime industry in 2008 and as everyone well knows it has been a really challenging decade, with highs and lows. For many people, it is a job that requires you to be available at any time, and in some instances, despite the hard work and passion, there was not much return.
But, that being said, in a downturn what you learn is invaluable and I am lucky enough to work for an innovative owner (Asia Maritime Pacific) who has managed to weather the storm well and continued to grow. The people in this industry have a deep-rooted passion and you learn very quickly how to adapt, innovate and face the challenges head-on.
Due to the depressed markets, I can see there are fewer jobs available out there for people interested in the maritime industry, the industry has probably not invested in training up talent as much as they should have done which means we will face a talent shortage in the very near future.
SFR: What was your motivation to start Young Professionals in Shipping Network..??
TL: I founded YPSN with two other friends Su Yin Anand and Marija Pospisil. We got the idea while we were attending networking events fairly early on in our careers.
While at these events we met plenty of great high-level executives who already had their networks formed over the years. But we were not meeting any of our peers. We felt that there was a gap in the market for more relaxed, fun networking events to do away with the stereotype this was an older male-dominated industry.
We also wanted to host events more relevant to the next generation of shipping professional. 10 years later and a 1000 members strong we are still here – although not so young!
SFR: What are some of YPSN’s activities that are helping the youth to understand our industry more..??
TL: We host numerous events and we try to make them fun, topical but with a different take and most importantly interactive.
We hosted an event a year or so back where industry experts had to each pitch their case for investment to our members in the audience whether it was investing in Supramax, MR Tankers, Cruise ships in China or Coastal traders. It helped them to understand the business case for becoming a shipowner and got a lot of coverage.
We hosted a debate in 2018 where the Rear Admiral of the USCG came over to debate whether “regulations only penalise the virtuous” and apart from that we run career days for students, port tours, round tables with CEOs, ship visits and of course our infamous Pacific Basin Soccer Sixes for the last 7 years!
Our most ambitious event and one we are very proud of is our Global Startup Competition launched this year called “The Captain’s Table” http://www.ypsnhk.com/captain.html to help encourage entrepreneurs and innovators connect with our industry.
So if any of your readers know of any shipping startups that might be interested in The Captain’s Table, they can visit the site and contact us for participation.
SFR: How can we encourage more participation from women in the maritime industry..??
TL: Visibility – Firstly the industry needs to wake up and realise most people still do not fully understand the industry and a lot of people come to us asking us how they get a foot in the door. The maritime industry offers so many interesting career paths to suit anyone’s passion but a lot of people find it hard to access these roles.
I think the industry needs to be more active in marketing themselves, whether through career days, internships, universities to attract new talent. Of course, having women in the industry is vital, diversity is key but at the moment I hear a general lack of interest from the next generation to join our industry – so we need to step up.
Flexibility – I have definitely seen more brilliant women in our industry over the last 10 years especially in ship finance, maritime law and marine insurance. But there are still not enough women in roles in chartering, broking, engineering and at sea etc.
I had my first child about 2 years ago and everyone knows chartering hours can be tough so I did worry when I returned to work. But I had good support from my colleagues and an understanding company which do allow flexibility. With modern technology, no one needs to be glued to their desk and I know that is a key thing for a lot of women who want to be mothers and have a career.
Mentors and role models – these are key whether male or female. To have someone to aspire to or learn from as you start your career is invaluable.
Investment – Investment in your employees whether through training in skills, leadership or further education. It’s important for companies to nurture their employees and for employees to see career progression. Intergenerational learning was a phrase I heard the other day. I have learnt so much from some very experienced maritime leaders but the next generation also has a lot to offer in terms of innovation and modernisation of our industry.
Women will want to see other women in senior roles to know there are opportunities for them to succeed.
SFR: What tips do you have for aspiring youngsters (especially women) who wish to join the maritime industry, in terms of their starting point and career path..??
TL: Network, network and network. Our industry is still very network driven but people are more than willing to help and give advice so do reach out and ask.
Pay it forward – help others along the way and build that network up. The people in the industry tend to be in it for the long haul.
Try to get work experience in different departments to know what suits you best. Just reach out and write, a lot of companies and organisations offer internships and funding like the MATF in Hong Kong to get young people into the industry.